Posted on 06/06/2019

6 tips to help charities (or any organisation) buy digital

We recently supported the Yorkshire Institute of Fundraising Conference in York, we supplied their printed programme and enjoyed two days of networking with charities, volunteers and other sponsors dedicated to supporting the sector. 

The theme of the event was ‘Re:Fresh’, and focused on how charities can breathe new life into programmes and try new ideas. We met with lots of charity fundraisers and managers who are keen to update their digital strategies and invest in tech to help improve their operations, but don’t know where to start.

From understanding what you’re getting for your money to deciphering the industry lingo, it’s easy to see why a lot of people find purchasing digital solutions daunting. If you’re a charity, you’re objectives and considerations will vary from those of a business too, and quite often, it can be difficult to find a supplier who’s on the same page.

So, as a digital agency with a wealth of experience delivering effective projects for charities, we thought we’d share our top tips to help charities (and most organisations) buy digital efficiently:

1. Get the brief right

Your brief must be on point - go over it with a fine tooth comb to ensure the project will deliver what you need it to. Ask yourself, why do I need it to do x, y and z? Explain this to your suppliers so they understand the problem and can offer solutions you hadn’t thought of. Ensure your key outcomes are clear and easy for your supplier to understand. 

2. There’s no such thing as a stupid question

If you don’t ask, you don’t know. Don’t ever be afraid to ask what phrases mean and always make sure you and your supplier fully understand the project’s deliverables. You need to be clear on what success means, and so does your supplier.

3. Become informed

You may very well be out of your comfort zone when buying digital solutions, so it’s important you find a supplier who speaks your language. You must both be on the same page to ensure you can communicate efficiently and understand how the different features of a project will meet your needs.


IOF Institute of Fundraising at breakfast

4. Have an open mind and be willing to go beyond the brief

Don’t try to compare apples with apples. Tendering frameworks are great for comparing like for like items, but when you’re buying a bespoke piece of digital work, give allowances for ‘off-brief’ innovation. Some of the best ideas come from meeting a problem at an angle you’ve maybe not seen yet. 

5. Relationships are free

You’ll get more out of a project if you work with a team that’s passionate about what you do and wants you to achieve your goals. This kind of relationship takes time to build, and you should only work with a team that’s willing to put those hours in.

6. Be a first class client

A charity shouldn’t be classed as a second class customer - don’t ever be afraid to chase your supplier for progress updates. It’s important your project is delivered on-time and in budget, so set key milestones for you and the development team from the outset. 

When you’re producing projects that deal with complicated problems, project values can represent significant investment. Just because you’re approaching a problem you don’t usually deal with, don’t accept second best.

Want to find out more about how we deliver digital solutions for charities? Check out these projects we completed for Matthew’s Hub and Fitmums and Friends.

#IoFYorksConf have achieved the impossible dream of fitting map and full conference schedule on one page. Other conferences please take note.

Simon Scriver, @ToastFundraiser

Finally, can we say a massive thank you to to Kate Carroll, Emily Honey and whole IoF Yorkshire Team for the invite and looking after us over the two days. 

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